Religious Freedom

Attorney General Ken Paxton
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to strike down a 2016 California law that bans state-funded travel to states with discriminatory laws — a list Texas landed on nearly three years ago after the Legislature approved a religious-refusal law for adoptions in the state.

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

From Texas Standard:

On Tuesday, a new Texas Department of Criminal Justice policy went into effect, banning any religious adviser from being in the execution chamber with an inmate. The decision came after the U.S. Supreme Court, last week, postponed the execution of Patrick Murphy, a member of the Texas Seven group.

The court said his execution had to wait until Texas decided on its policy about the presence of spiritual advisers during executions. The state had originally denied Murphy’s request to have a Buddhist priest, which Murphy appealed because Texas had allowed advisers from other faiths to be in the execution chamber. In his opinion, Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that Texas needed to find a way to accommodate all faiths so as not to discriminate, or allow no advisers at all. TDCJ decided on the latter.

Companies Express Opposition To 'Bathroom Bill 2.0'

Mar 29, 2019
Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

The Supreme Court's decision in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple left open a larger question of whether a business can discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community based on the religious principles of the businessperson.

Now, Texas lawmakers want to provide licensed professionals in Texas with legal cover in the event they are accused of discriminating on the basis of the businessperson's religious beliefs.  

Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

A Houston-based religious nonprofit behind the so-called bathroom bill is suing the City of Austin over its anti-discrimination hiring ordinance. The U.S. Pastor Council filed suit in a federal district court late last week, alleging the city rule's lack of exemptions for churches or other religiously affiliated groups violates state and federal law.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions based on their religious beliefs may soon be protected from disciplinary action thanks to a bill passed this legislative session. 

A Native Texas Tribe Now Has Legal Eagle Feathers

Jun 17, 2016
Screenshot via YouTube/The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

From Texas Standard:

They called it "Operation Powwow" — back in 2006, a federal agent went undercover to raid a tribal ceremony. It ended with threats of prison time and fines for tribe members participating in the powwow.

The crime? Using eagle feathers without a permit.

But now the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas has won a decade-long legal battle over use of the feathers, what the tribe considers to be a victory for religious liberty.

 


Owen Parry / Texas Tribune

The business community is playing an increasingly important role in debates over anti-LGBT legislation. And, following controversial bills in North Carolina and Mississippi, businesses across Texas are gearing up to take on similar bills in the legislature next year.


Bob Daemmrich for the Texas Tribune

The next Texas legislative session is almost a year away, but Senate Republicans are already zeroing in on proposals to bolster legal protections for religious opponents of same-sex marriage after its legalization by the U.S. Supreme Court last year.

At a hearing of the Senate State Affairs Committee on Wednesday, some Republicans appeared to endorse a piecemeal approach to passing legislation shielding religious objectors to same-sex marriage instead of pushing for more comprehensive state constitutional amendments like Indiana’s embattled “religious freedom” law


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon for KUT News

State lawmakers will revisit the debate over whether federal actions protecting gay rights are infringing on religious liberties this week, with a Texas Senate panel taking up the issue tomorrow.

Following last year’s Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage nationwide, there’s been a debate about whether that landmark civil rights ruling, Obergefell v. Hodges, would hinder religious freedoms. Republican state leaders say that’s why they want the legislature to consider laws that they say would protect those freedoms in Texas.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Texas lawmakers have filed bills that would protect people who claim that city ordinances, state or federal laws interfere with their religious beliefs.

The measures come as the right to same sex marriage gains more traction at the federal level and Texas cities pass measures that protect people based on their sexual preference.